Bowel screening saves lives – information day at Onehunga Library1 min readReading Time: < 1 minute
If you’re between 60 and 74 years-old, and living in central Auckland, you can have a free bowel cancer test – all in the privacy of your own home. Invitations to participate in the programme, and get your home-testing kit, will begin to appear now in the letterboxes of those eligible (dependent on birth date) and continue on a two-yearly cycle.
New Zealand has concerning bowel cancer statistics, says Programme clinical lead Gastroenterologist, Dr Rachael Bergman. “One in 18 Kiwis will develop bowel cancer in their lifetime, with men at greater risk than women. More than 3,000 people are diagnosed with colon cancer annually, with 1,200 people dying from this disease each year. We want to see ADHB residents stay out of those statistics.”
Residents with inequalities in health outcomes, such as Māori and Pacific peoples, and those living in higher deprivation areas are seen as priority. While Māori have a lower rate of colorectal cancer, they suffer more because they present later with advanced disease and are therefore more likely to die from it.
“If we can encourage a high bowel screening participation rate in Māori, we can start improving these health inequalities with earlier detection and better survival,” says Dr Bergman
It’s hoped that testing in the privacy of home will encourage unwilling, embarrassed or fearful people to change their minds, Dr Bergman says. “People often don’t follow up on bowel issues because English isn’t their primary language, they live in areas where healthcare is difficult to access, they are hard to reach, or they have cultural and social discomfort in dealing with faecal samples.”